Water Polo Champions League Men: Marseille goes through before playing

Credit to: Philippe Fretault

Marseille booked the penultimate spot in the quarter-final round, hours before their last game, thanks to Vouliagmeni’s win over Spandau in Group D. The French could then afford to lose a spectacular match to Barceloneta, although they were close to a shootout. Penalties decided the outcome of the Jadran Split and Ferencvaros clash as the Hungarians bagged their 23rd win in the season in as many matches.

Group C: Jadran Split (CRO) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 16-16, pen: 1-4, BVK Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) 9-6

Standings: 1. FTC 17, 2. Split 10, 3. Zvezda 7, 4. Herceg Novi 2

Group D: Vouliagmeni NC (GRE) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 10-6, CN Marseille (FRA) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) 12-13

Standings: 1. Barceloneta 18, 2. Marseille 9, 3. Spandau 6, 4. Vouliagmeni 3

The big question of the day was answered practically in eight minutes – Vouliagmeni stormed to a 5-0 lead against Spandau in the first period in the afternoon encounter in Group D. Since the Germans needed a regular-time win to stay on course, this meant that Marseille didn’t even have to touch water to go through.

Although Spandau had a better spell in the second quarter and at the beginning of the third as they climbed back to 6-5, they ran out of steam and couldn’t add any more in the following six and half minutes, missing three extras, while the Greeks managed to score twice for an 8-5 lead before the last break.

 And two more goals in 84 seconds in the fourth secured a win of prestige for Vouliagmeni – indeed, Spandau couldn’t score a single goal in the last 14 minutes, not the way to make the best eight in this competition.

In the other now stake-less match, Marseille jumped to an early 3-1 lead with a hat-trick by Krisztian Manhercz, but Barceloneta started gearing up in the second period, hit two in the last 80 seconds and Felipe Perrone netted a fine action goal for 6-9 early in the third.

Still, despite being down by three at 7-10 and 8-11, their renewed efforts finally put the French back level with 2:22 remaining.

Perrone buried CNAB’s next man-up for 12-13, then the hosts had an almost endless possession which saw back-to-back man-ups and five shots, but none hit the back of the net thanks to the Spaniards’ outstanding defending.

In Group C, the qualified teams produced a brilliant 32-goal spectacle and a shootout as a bonus.

For a while, the lead was constantly changing between Jadran Split and Ferencvaros, then the group-winner Hungarians netted four in a row for 10-13. However, the Croats didn’t let it go and managed to catch up their rivals at 15-15 with 1:43 remaining.

Soon Stylianos Argyropoulos hit his fourth from action, but a bit lucky man-up goal brought the hosts back to even for 16-16, 41 seconds from time.

In the last game in the current season, FTC failed to win the match in 32min for the first time after 22 victories across all competitions.

They still bagged a shootout win, thanks to their goalie’s usual magic: Soma Vogel, whose penalty saves landed gold for Hungary this summer’s World Championships (and at the 2020 Europeans and for Ferencvaros in the 2019 Champions League final and the 2018 Super Cup final), stopped the Croats’ first two attempts in a business-as-usual style.

The encounter of Crvena Zvezda and Jadran Herceg Novi went for a better seeding in the Euro Cup as third-placed sides will be drawn against EC group stage runners-up.

Although the Montenegrins stormed to a 1-4 lead in the first period, they lost their composure in front and remained scoreless in the middle two quarters. Indeed, their next hit came after 18:54 minutes and during this phase the Serbs netted five, and two more as a response after 6-5 to win the game and clinch the third place.

Fixtures for Wednesday

Group A

12.30 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v VK Novi Beograd (SRB)

20.00 AN Brescia (ITA) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

Standings: 1. NBG 12, 2. Sabadell 10, 3. Brescia 8, 3. Steaua 0

Group B

18.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Pro Recco (ITA)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)

Standings: 1. Recco 15, 2. Olympiacos 11, 3. Jug 4, 4. Dinamo 0